Theses Bachelor's

From the Campus to the Underground: The Formation of the Weathermen

Imperatore, Paul

The Weather Underground Organization reversed Students for a Democratic Society's traditional strategy of non-violence at the moment when SDS was at the height of its influence. Up to this point, Weather veterans and sympathetic historians have controlled the historical discourse. Even negative accounts ascribe undue influence to the group, which never involved more than a few hundred people. The Columbia University protests of 1968 were an indispensable step in the eventual triumph of the Weatherman faction. The "Action Faction" had taken power in Columbia SDS and its direct confrontation approach would influence Weatherman after the successful Columbia building occupation. Many of the Columbia leaders, like Mark Rudd, used their celebrity after Columbia to push the "Action Faction" mentality onto SDS at the national level and other Columbia SDS members would go on to join the Weatherman cadre. Later in 1968, the violence at the Democratic National Convention was an important moment for "the Jesse James Gang" of Ann Arbor SDS. The Convention showed that electoral politics were bankrupt. Moreover, because of the extensive media coverage of the protest, those who would form Weatherman adopted "Yippie" style theatrics when protesting because they were guaranteed to get media coverage. After the Weatherman Faction emerged and ousted Progressive Labor from SDS in 1969, the Weathermen began to pursue revolution in solidarity with the third world but in total isolation from the American public. Their sporadic bombings were driven by the false assumption that a worldwide revolution was occurring at the end of the 1960s, but the



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Academic Units
B.A., Columbia University
Published Here
May 14, 2010


Senior thesis.